There’s a Path to D.C. Statehood

On this good day, let’s talk about something good. Like D.C. statehood!

One of the problems with passing statehood for D.C. is that it is widely believed to require ending the filibuster (the Senate rule that, even though only 51 votes are required to pass a bill, 60 senators are needed to bring the bill to the floor in the first place). Since Republicans have 50 votes in the Senate, they would be able to filibuster any legislation that permits D.C. statehood.

Or maybe not (boldface mine):

Constitutionally, the admission of a new state is not actually a legislative matter, so the legislative filibuster shouldn’t apply. In recent years both Democrats and Republicans, by ending the filibuster for confirming presidential appointments (a power outlined in Article II, Section 2), have in effect agreed the filibuster shouldn’t apply to certain constitutional matters that aren’t covered by Article I of the Constitution, which lays out the design of Congress and its legislative powers. The admission of a new state is also not included in Article I. The drafters set it apart as something distinct, not a change to law but a change to the structure of government.

Admission of states is dealt with separately in Article VI, Section 3…

It is no accident that the framers set the admission of new states as a matter separate from legislation. It is also clear they purposely choose not to have a supermajority requirement for it, as had existed under the Articles of Confederation. Our early leaders understood the existential need to add new states, but the Articles made the process nearly impossible

Having a clear system to admit new states with a simple majority, as long as the new state wasn’t part of another state without that state’s permission, was considered an important improvement of the new Constitution…

The two main arguments for keeping the legislative filibuster are that allowing endless debate forces compromise and protects the rights of the legislative minority…

Neither of these arguments make sense when applied to the unique issue of statehood. Legally, new states must be admitted under the equal footing doctrine. You can’t admit a state with less powers or rights than the others. So statehood is effectively a binary question with no possibility of compromise. It can’t be made “better,” it either happens or it doesn’t.

Keep in mind that rules changes can’t be filibustered, and Vice President Harris can, at any time, chose to be the presiding officer of the Senate, so if Democrats want to admit D.C. as a state, they can.

And they should.

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